Former Penticton Pinnacles player Jamie Fraser helped take the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack to double overtime against the number one ranked team in USPORTS, but could’t get the win.
Fraser had one goal in the WolfPack’s 4-2 loss to the Cape Breton Capers on Friday in the semifinal of the USPORTS Respect Group men’s soccer championship in Kamloops. The WolfPack will now play for bronze on Sunday.
“The guys really battled today,” said WolfPack head coach John Antulov. “They showed resilience. Even when we went down 4-2 in the second overtime we had four or five great scoring opportunities. They didn’t quit. They kept on fighting. “
With over 1,000 onlookers packed into Hillside Stadium, the top ranked Capers silenced the crowd early. Just over a minute in, USPORTS 2nd team All-Canadian Cory Bent took advantage of a miscue by WolfPack defender Josh Banton. He stole the ball of Banton and blasted it low left side by WolfPack keeper Alan Connor.
After scoring their first goal on a set piece, the WolfPack took the lead in the 20th minute on a similar play. Canada West player of the year and USPORTS 1st team All-Star Mitchell Popadynetz took a corner kick which wound up on the right foot of Fraser.
Fraser one timed it into the goal. It was his fifth goal of the post season. The WolfPack led 2-1 at the half.
In the second half, the Capers tied it up in the 51st minute. The game then went to overtime where Cape Breton capitalized on a set piece of their own. Four minutes into the first extra period, Budhoo took a corner kick and it was converted by Health for his second of the match.
In the 12th minute of the first overtime, Charlie Waters converted on a free kick to put the Capers up two goals.
“That was just fantastic,” said Capers coach Dean Morley about the contest. “Just loved the passion of the crowd, the energy and the commitment of all the players. We got the early goal and then they got one back and the fans were pumped up. It was great to experience. I think the TRU players fed off that and put two goals in.”
Despite the loss, both coaches felt TRU’s showing has put the program on the national map.
“I look at the last two weeks, we have beaten the last three national champions,” said Antulov. “ We took the number one team to double overtime. I thought we gave them a very good game. They are a very, very good side. There is no question about that. We gave them a real solid battle and fought right till the end.”
“So much for the athletic director, the coach, the players and the community to look forward to here,” Morley stated about the WolfPack’s development. “They knocked York out last nite, they took the number one team in the country to double overtime. Holy Smokes, if this is just the beginning they are going places.”
The Capers will meet up with the University of Montreal Carabins in Sunday’s 2 p.m. finale. The bronze medal match will be a “Canada West battle’ as the league champion UBC Thunderbirds will face off with the WolfPack. Those two teams met in the Canada West semifinal with UBC winning 3-1. That match is set for Sunday at 1 p.m.